Something to Shout About: 5 Things L&D Can Learn From Marketing

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Natalie Ann Holborow
Digital Content Specialist
Something to Shout About: 5 Things L&D Can Learn From Marketing

If I told you that a staggering 65% of L&D professionals say their learners aren’t aware of the learning opportunities available at their organisation, who would you look to for ideas on how to change it? Your business leaders? HR? Line managers? The learners themselves?

While collaboration with all of the above can help to establish a thriving learning culture at your organisation, there’s another department we can look to for tactics when boosting awareness of learning opportunities.

And that’s marketing.

If you stop and think about it, marketing is concerned with a similar set of challenges to L&D:

  • Connecting with the target audience (in your case, the learners)
  • Providing a ‘hook’ to hold their interest (desire to learn)
  • Influencing behaviour (enrolling on the course)

Just as a marketer influences people to ‘buy’ something, we want people to ‘buy’ into learning and development. The major difference is that marketing targets an external audience, whereas L&D markets internally.

Let’s take a look at five marketing tactics you can leverage to spark interest in your L&D, boost learner participation and raise the profile of learning in your organisation.

People talking around table with lightbulb in the centre

1. Get to Know Your People

No savvy marketer would embark on a marketing campaign without first understanding the target audience and the same is true when promoting your learning opportunities. In marketing, you would carry out your research by conducting surveys and questionnaires with different groups, interviewing individuals, sitting down with focus groups, and examining secondary data such as official figures, market share and competitor performance.

The beauty of marketing L&D is that your audience is internal, meaning you can really get to know your learners through the simplest of methods. First, identify how you want to categorise different segments – by department, for example – and collect key information through questionnaires, surveys, interviews, or even just by having an informal chat. Identify learner pain points, find out what motivates your learners and ask about overall goals.

Once you know this information, you can ensure that your learning opportunities are relevant to the group you are targeting – resulting in greater interest, uptake and engagement

L7D practitioner demonstrating relevance of learning to an employee using charts on a screen

2. Demonstrate the Relevance of Learning

Research by Bersin by Deloitte reveals that the modern learner is overwhelmed, distracted and impatient, with a mere 1% of a typical work week dedicated to training and development. It is crucial, therefore, that you construct a strong case for your learning programmes; after all, such time-poor employees need to know that any precious hours invested in training and development are really worth it. Start by answering the question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

“Marketing isn’t about the present, it’s about the future. When you are internal to an organisation, marketing is about what you and your department can offer people in the future.” – Jo Cook (Training Journal)

From the outset, outline how the training will make employees’ jobs easier by teaching them skills relevant to their specific roles. If learners can see how the learning is relevant to them personally, they’ll have a solid reason to get on board.

Employees in a group looking at communications on a large mobile device

3. Personalise Your Communications

Anyone can send out a stream of emails and plaster the coffee machine in garishly bright posters, but how do you ensure you’re not just making a load of noise into the void?

By personalising your communications, that’s how. Let’s take email, for example. Despite the advances of technology and social media, email marketing is still as powerful as ever. Did you know that for every £1 spent, email marketing generates an average £38 in ROI? This is precisely why, in the same report, 9 out of 10 marketing professionals declared email as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their business.

But it’s not just new learners who can be hooked via email. Don’t neglect your past learners – a simple reminder email along the lines of “Hey, it’s been a while since your last class…” with a recap of all the skills they learned (and how they have been applied since) can put learning firmly back in the forefront of the recipient’s mind – and increase the chances of them coming back for more.

You should aim to get to know your audience well enough to know what communications they prefer, and when they prefer to receive them. Doing so will show consideration for their personal preferences and ensure that your message reaches them at the right time, and in the right way.

Employees climbing stairs to become learning champions

4. Champion Your Ambassadors for Learning

Champion those who are already successfully employing the skills they’ve learned and get them to share their stories. Those in more senior roles are particularly powerful ambassadors for learning, as their stories will prompt your staff to start joining the dots between a good learning programme and career success. As the people who your staff know and trust, leaders can act as social influencers to drive positive behaviour change – which is why, with the rise of technology, influencers are such powerful means of marketing today (and the reason why you can’t scroll for more than a few seconds on Instagram without coming across a well-known figure promoting a particular brand or product).

5. Share Success Stories

Don’t roll out your learning programs in one hit; it’s good practice to ensure that your L&D really works when piloted with smaller, more manageable cohorts in the first instance. Not only does this allow you to collect feedback and work out any problems that may occur, but it also enables you to share case studies of successful projects – and encourage others to get on board. It may take longer than rolling out all in one go, but it really can make the difference between an average training program and a really great one with proven success.

Finally, don’t forget your own role in this. As an L&D manager, you need to embody the qualities you want to inspire in others. By channeling your passion for learning every day, speaking with enthusiasm and showing real openness to keep on learning from others, your attitude will serve as a key example to drive others to do the same.

In Summary…

By demonstrating the importance of continuous learning in all we say and do, we can foster the sort of learning culture that truly outperforms those without one. This is precisely why ‘Never stop learning’ is at the core of what we at CDSM Thinqi do.

So, get to know your audience. Spark interest. Demonstrate relevance. Personalise your communications. Champion your ambassadors for learning. Share success stories. And above all, make sure you really show that you believe in your own message.

After all, we never really stop learning. That’s why L&D matters.

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge blended learning ecosystem can help you reach your organisational goals, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re always exploring key trends in the learning and development world, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when new insights are published:


thinqi logo
Natalie Ann Holborow
Digital Content Specialist